What Is Lead Tape & Should You Use It on Your Pickleball Paddle?
Lead is a heavy metal that can be made into a tape - also known as lead tape. Lead tape can be used to add small increments of weight to your pickleball paddle, which will generally result in a heavier paddle swing and a bit more power, or pop, when striking the pickleball.
A four-inch strip of quarter-inch-wide lead tape weighs about 1 gram (and, to note, to add more weight (there is no restriction on paddle weight), layer additional four-inch strips on top of each other). However, where you place the lead tape produces different effects:
The Sides of the Pickleball Paddle (i.e. 3 and 9 o'clock) - Placing strips of lead tape on the sides of the pickleball paddle will produce a little extra power and pop, and will also enlarge the sweet spot of the paddle. This means that a player will have a bit larger margin for error (rather than having to hit the pickleball in the center of the pickleball paddle).
The Top of the Pickleball Paddle (i.e. 12 o'clock) - Placing strips of lead tape on the top of the pickleball paddle will produce more power and pop. However, this will make the head of the pickleball paddle feel heavier and have a bit more whip, which is not desirable for all pickleball players. For instance, if the head of the pickleball paddle lags behind a pickleball player when swinging, the pickleball paddle is likely too heavy for him or her.
The "In-Between" (i.e. 2 and 10 o'clock) - Placing strips of lead tape in the 2 and 10 o'clock positions (like driving a car) will give you a bit of a broader sweet spot and a bit more power - in other words, the in-between of the benefits of placing the lead tape on the sides of the pickleball paddle versus the top of the pickleball paddle.
The Lower Sides of the Pickleball Paddle (i.e. 4 and 8 o'clock) - This is the least common placement of lead tape. With that said, placing strips of lead tape in lower sides of the pickleball paddle will add some weight to your paddle without making the paddle feel too "hefty," as the weight will be closer to the grip of the paddle.
Whether or not to add lead tape to a pickleball paddle, as well as placement and how much to add, is a personal preference for each pickleball player. However, if you decide to use lead tape, remember to be careful, as there is a slight risk that lead particles could be released when handling, applying, and removing lead tape. Consider covering the lead tape with edge guard tape after application, and always handle, apply, and remove the lead tape away from your face. Also, consider using gloves to handle, apply, and remove the lead tape, as well as wash your hands immediately after.
Have you considered adding lead tape to your pickleball paddle? Test it out and see it makes a difference in your game - and remember to be careful when handling!
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